WE’VE been sick in our place for a while.
There are sniffles and bad sleep and phlegm and my five-year-old just told me that his poo was like a creamy pancake, with a bit of Nutella on top. (I had a look — fair play to his powers of description.)
This is a ropey time in any household. Nerves are shot, everyone is just dragging themselves through the day, which is really more like night, because that’s late November for you.
I was starting to think we are the unluckiest family of all time — and then I read about Luis Enrique.
He’s returning to his job as Spain’s football manager, having taken time off in June because his little girl Xana was sick. She passed away in August, aged nine, from a rare form of bone cancer.
I remember hearing about it at the time and feeling sick to my stomach at the sadness of it all.
But reading about it now seems even sadder. Enrique has one of those great Spanish faces that holds the full spectrum of emotion all at once.
The thought of him pulling himself upright and going back to work left me shook for a while. I googled the story just now and found an old photo of him gazing at Xana as she waved a giant Barcelona flag after they won the league.
It would be nice to say this has given me perspective, helped me to realise how lucky we all are with our little colds and stomach bugs. But it hasn’t.
That’s not how it works when you’re a parent. If you let yourself think about all the bad things that could happen, you’d never let your child out the door to school.
So we compartmentalise these sad, sad stories and carry on with the assumption that it will never happen to us.
That said, I feel a bit guiltier than usual, complaining about my latest cold. To be honest with you, I’m a bad patient. I always thought I was great until I met my wife, who comes from a family where you need to be down a limb before anyone will ask if you’re all right.
That’s not a bad way to be — it helps to fight back against illness, and fake it until you make it back to good health.
That’s just not the way I was brought up — we were more inclined to talk up our sore throats into the early stages of the bubonic plague. Actually, do you know what, I think this is more nature than nurture.
Our daughter has inherited my approach to sickness — she’s like three different people presenting to A&E, with her list of fresh ailments every morning.
We have a good old laugh at her, myself included, because game recognises game on the hypochondria front.
There is a bit of a downside to this — the first inkling of his stomach bug was when puked down the back of the sofa in our front room. (Peace and love to my wife for cleaning that one up.)
I think in the end, you need to be true to yourself when you’re sick. I’ve tried bottling it up, pretending that I’m fine, but to be honest that just makes me feel sorry for myself and even harder to live with.
I think my wife has spotted this as well — sometimes she’ll give me a rub on the head and say “poor Fitzy”, even though it goes against her nature. This is usually enough for me to start feeling a bit better about life.
Now that I think about it, we’re all a bit better today.
It feels like we can finally start thinking about Christmas. And spare a thought or two for Luis Enrique and his family while we’re at it.